- There is a significant gap between employee and CEO perceptions of available mental health benefits.
- New research reveals too much focus on which programs to offer, and not enough focus on solving the “last mile” challenge.
- To ensure that employees keep in mind the benefits they have access to, consistent outreach efforts are key.
The coronavirus pandemic shone a light on the importance of mental health. Now more than ever, company leaders and employees both agree that mental health is an important issue that employers need to support.
However, research has found that there is a significant gap between employee and CEO perceptions of available mental health benefits.
With the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, many companies implemented new policies and wellness benefits to better support workers as they worked from home. From selfcare and mental health days to access to mental health coaches and online trainers, many companies set out to provide extra support to their employees.
However, too much focus was placed on which programs to offer, and not enough focus was given to solving the “last mile” challenge. This, according to Ginger’s latest Workforce Attitudes toward Mental Health report.
“Even as a health technology company, we spent significant time solving for the “last mile” challenge: effectively communicating to employees all that was available to them. When we performed our research this year with both CEOs and the average U.S. worker, we saw the “last mile” challenge show up across the board—in their beliefs and their experiences with mental health.”
This finding is important because it helps explain why there is a significant gap between employee and CEO perceptions of what a company is truly doing to support the mental health of employees. Ginger found that while 96% of CEOs believe their companies are doing enough for employee mental health, only 69% of employees agree with the statement.
What’s more, Ginger found that 70% of CEOs believe they are accepting of emotional and mental heatlh issues in the workplace, but only 35% of employees believe this as well.
Interestingly, “the more senior the employee, the more likely they are to view their company’s support of mental health positively. Individual contributors report that their companies offer mental health benefits only half as often as CEOs do.”
If companies are struggling to effectively communicate the benefits that are available to employees, then employees can’t take advantage of those benefits.
In a time where employees feel more stressed than ever—70% of employees reported feeling more stressed due to the COVID-19 pandemic than ever before in their professional careers—ensuring that they not only have access to, but also take advantage of mental health programs and benefits is key.
48% of employees report experiencing high or extreme stress over the past year—a 7% increase from pre-pandemic levels in 2019. While the majority of workers are optimistic about the future, COVID-19 remains a top stressor at work, so stress levels aren’t likely to drop in the short-term. This is a business issue because poor employee mental health negatively impacts productivity and business performance.
CEOs know this. It’s part of the reason why a significant percentage of surveyed CEOs reported investing in their own mental health over the past year.
“CEOs also recognize the impact that employees’ mental health can have on work, with 80% believing that poor employee mental health negatively impacts employee productivity. Meanwhile, 95% of employees report that mental health support helped them feel more positive, less stressed, and more productive at work.”
What Can Company Leaders Do?
If the goal is to better support the mental health of employees, then there are two main things company executives need to focus on.
The first is to ensure that their company is investing in mental health benefits for employees. This will not only help improve productivity levels and engagement, but it can also help companies attract and retain talent. Ginger research shows that “employees appreciate—and expect—a mental health benefit as part of their benefits package.”
If your company already offers robust mental health benefits to employees, then you need to prioritize internal communication efforts to ensure that employees are fully aware of the mental benefits available to them. While this can be done through emails and during company meetings, there are more effective strategies that companies can implement:
- Text messages
- Social media and company wide groups.
However, at the end of the day, the most important part of your communication strategy is consistency. To ensure that employees keep in mind the benefits they have access to, consistent outreach efforts are key.